Every year, Mother Earth Farm sustains hundreds of hungry families in the Pierce County area. Saturday the farm opened its doors to children and their families looking for a slice of rural life.
The 8-acre farm, run by Emergency Food Network, lies a short ways down a pothole-lined, single-lane road in the Puyallup River valley.
Volunteers and laborers from a nearby women’s prison provide the bulk of the labor through the busy growing season. Those workers, plus a small staff, pull weeds, plant vegetables and maintain equipment.
Saturday, though, was a day for about two dozen children and their family members to tour rows of cabbage, broccoli and carrots, to graze the raspberry bushes and plant sunflower seeds. Some of them even sampled — and seemed to enjoy — kale.
Kyra Brunney, a 9-year-old with a wide smile, vowed to have her own garden someday.
“My kids love to garden,” Sarah Brunney said. They have a few plants now — she joked that a green thumb skips a generation. A garden might not be far off. The military family completes a project every weekend, and raised beds are on the work plan.
Brunney said she heard about the twice-yearly youth days event when she and her eldest daughter, Hailey, 15, were bagging dried beans for Emergency Food Network.
“Knowing where your food comes from and how it’s grown is super-important,” Brunney said.
Not far from the Puyallup River, the farm grows organic food for 16 food banks in the region, said Grayson Crane, one of two farm managers. Last year the farm grew 100,000 pounds of produce. This year it’s already produced 20,000 pounds — on track to meet last year’s pace, he said.
Children and their parents weaved through mud puddles and wheel ruts. One mother, familiar with farm garb, wore galoshes. Wide-brimmed straw hats protected others from a morning sun that struggled to pierce the morning haze.
Adriana Walker’s family arrived in Washington two months ago, via her husband’s U.S. Army job. Her two eldest pulled weeds while her youngest wandered the property on a scavenger hunt. She hopes to get the children, who are homeschooled, involved in some sort of volunteer activity at least once a week.
“I wanted the children to learn about nature and about helping,” said Walker, who lives in Olympia. “It’s very important they grow up (volunteering) so they have the tools to help.”
Emergency Food Network’s Mother Earth Farm
What: A nonprofit dedicated to feeding the hungry.
Events: Volunteers at Mother Earth Farm can pull weeds and help neighbors in need. The farm hosts brewer’s nights on Wednesdays throughout the summer for volunteers age 21 and older.
To volunteer: efoodnet.org, firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-584-1040